Sport AFL Bombers dig deep to scrape past gallant Brisbane

Bombers dig deep to scrape past gallant Brisbane

Jobe Watson
The Essendon skipper will line up with his teammates for the 2017 AFL season. Photo: Getty
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• Just what exactly is wrong with Essendon?

Essendon lapsed again but still had the experience and composure to sink a gallant Brisbane on Saturday night in an AFL thriller at the Gabba.

Guilty of going missing at vital stages in recent weeks, the Bombers faded badly in the third term before a final-quarter revival for a 9.11 (65) to 8.9 (57) win to jump into the top eight.

Youngster Jackson Merrett and Paddy Ryder kicked the only two goals of the fourth term after Brisbane shot themselves in the foot with a series of late attacking chances.

Merrett’s check-side goal on the run seven minutes into the final term was the seventh lead change of a tense clash in front of 26,432 fans.

In a week when the embattled Lions’ woes were highlighted, the club’s cubs threatened to lift the doom and gloom with a thrilling comeback.

Wearing a throwback Brisbane Bears guernsey, James Aish and Marco Paparone were prominent as the last-placed Lions quelled a second-quarter Bombers blitz.

Club leaders Jed Adcock and Tom Rockliff were also inspirational for Brisbane but the home side failed to find the polish and deliver the finishing touches required.

With red-headed goalsneak Josh Green a spark, Brisbane came roaring back after an uninspiring first half with four straight goals to snatch the lead back in the third term.

With fallout from Jack Viney tribunal visits dominating headlines, two incidents within two minutes of each other in the second term ensured more debate about the bump.

Paul Chapman raised his elbow in a collision with Jack Redden just before Andrew Raines’ shoulder collected Brendon Goddard high as they both lunged for the loose ball.

Lions defender Matt Maguire finished as the only man reported, booked for tripping Joe Daniher in the third term.

Brisbane were the more aggressive outfit in a scrappy opening to win the contested footy and kick three of the first four goals.

But a Zach Merrett major on the quarter-time siren gave the Bombers the momentum and they controlled the second term and finally were able to get some run through the middle of the Gabba to grab a 20-point lead with five straight majors.